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Is Spelt Gluten Free?

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  • Written By: J. Airman
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 15 September 2016
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As it is a wheat species, spelt does contain gluten. It should therefore not be included in gluten-free diets. Some people with a wheat allergy may be able to eat spelt, but those with gluten intolerance cannot. Too often, breads containing spelt are labeled as safe for celiac disease sufferers, so it is important to check the listed ingredients on the label for spelt, regardless of whether the label claims it is safe or wheat-free.

Celiac disease is a food reaction characterized by an intolerance to dietary gluten. It can trigger inflammation that can damage the small intestine. Gluten is found in grains that come from wheat species. To prevent the triggering of symptoms, a person with celiac disease should avoid grains that contain gluten.

Besides spelt, many other grains should be avoided, including barley, rye and durum wheat. These symptom-inducing grains are mostly found in breads and cereals, but they can also be lurking in sauces and dishes that use wheat products like flour as a thickener. Generally, the best way for a gluten-intolerant individual to avoid flare-ups is to cook food from scratch at home.

For those with celiac disease, the modified gluten-free diet is serious business. Accidentally consuming products with gluten, like barley, rye and spelt, can cause affected individuals abdominal discomfort that could lead to irreparable tissue damage. When cooking food for gluten-intolerant diners, it is important to avoid even the chance at contaminating food with wheat-containing products.

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Individuals who are highly sensitive to gluten must sometimes take further steps to avoid contamination, such as ensuring that gluten-free flour comes from a wheat-free facility and that all foods cooked in a kitchen are wheat-free. A wheat allergy is different from gluten intolerance, and it may mean that the allergy sufferer can eat certain types of wheat. Celiac sufferers can never eat any grain that contains gluten.

Though spelt is not suitable for people on a gluten-free diet, many other grains are safe for celiacs. Truly celiac-friendly, gluten-free grains often used to make bread include amaranth, quinoa and buckwheat. Other common grains that are safe for gluten-sensitive people include rice, corn and teff. Since each grain has different properties when cooking, alternative gluten-free grains are often blended when substituted for wheat flour. While quinoa performs well in producing a familiar wheat-bread like texture, it can have an undesirable flavor that can be tempered by adding amaranth, rice or buckwheat flour to the mix.

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